LONDON — Jordan Matthews is healthy again and back in an Eagles uniform making plays.
Which means another chance for Eagles fans to rip on the guy for no apparent reason.
He’s too slow, he’s too limited, he’s injury-prone. He’s heard it all. You’ve heard it too.
Guess what. Without Matthews, the Eagles don’t win Sunday.
Matthews, who re-joined the Eagles in Week 3, caught four passes for 93 yards in the Eagles’ 24-18 win over the Jaguars at Wembley Stadium.
Among his catches were a 31-yarder, a 13-yarder for a first down on 3rd-and-2 one play before the Wendell Smallwood touchdown, a 36-yarder to help set up the Zach Ertz touchdown and a sweet 13-yarder for a first down on the Eagles’ final drive to help run out the clock.
Should quiet his critics. At least for the time being.
But it won’t.
“I can go deep, I can run with the best of them,” he said after the game. “So I don’t really ever worry about that stuff. I just keep going and keep working.”
Matthews averaged 75 catches for 891 yards and 6½ touchdowns in his first three years for the Eagles before going to Buffalo in the Ronald Darby trade. He struggled through 10 injury-marred games with the Bills before resurfacing this summer with the Patriots, who released him on Aug. 1 after he hurt his hamstring.
Once he was healthy, it was a no-brainer for the Eagles to bring him back.
He caught a 56-yard touchdown against the Titans and had a couple first-down catches against the Giants, but Sunday in the win over the Jaguars was the best he’s looked in a long, long time.
“It’s just good to be 100 percent, that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “Waking up every single day putting your feet on the ground and just feeling good.”
Matthews’ 93 yards Sunday were his most in more than two years, since he had 114 against the Browns on opening day of 2016, Doug Pederson’s first game as a head coach and Carson Wentz’s first career game.
The thing I love about J-Matt is you can put him at (any position), he's going to get the job done,” Wentz said. “(And he does) all the stuff we ask our receivers to do blocking-wise. He can make plays, beat man coverage. We saw him do it a couple years ago here for a while. It was big for him to step up the way he did (Sunday). It was cool to have him be the leading receiver again. It's been a while.
Matthews has only 10 catches so far this year but they've gone for 200 yards, fourth-most on the team. Five of those catches have come on third down. In fact, Matthews is third on the team in third-down catches since he re-signed here, behind Alshon Jeffery (7) and Ertz (9).
“Jordan made some great plays on the ball, third-down catches,” Pederson said. “He's really strong with the football right now. Been able to elevate. He's really kind of fitting into what we're asking him to do.”
Matthews wasn’t here for the Super Bowl run, but in a way, it seems like he never left.
And don’t forget, he’s only 26. If he continues to contribute, he’s not going anywhere.
This really is like a new life for Matthews.
“There were only a couple plays that they put in that I didn’t know,” Matthews said. “So when I got back it was like, ‘OK, here’s Install 1,’ and I’m going through with coach (Gunter) Brewer and I was like, ‘OK, I remember all this.’ Next install?’
“And I think just the familiarity and the amazing guys in the locker room that I get to play with made the transition a lot easier. So I wouldn’t say (it’s) a second life, but I’m just really thankful and really blessed to be here.”
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